September 22, 2022
Beachwood resident George Vourlojianis took a trip down memory lane as he strolled the halls of Bryden Elementary during a recent tour of the building and grounds.
Bryden had been a brand new, state-of-the-art facility when Vourlojianis (Class of ‘66) attended as a bright-eyed kindergartener. Sixty years later, he praised the maintenance staff for keeping the building and grounds clean and well tended. But he couldn’t overlook the need for upgrades.
“Time marches on, and things need to be brought up to snuff in the 21st century,” said Vourlojianis. “The facilities are overwhelmed.”
Vourlojianis was among more than a dozen residents participating in public tours of the Bryden and Hilltop Elementary Schools, both of which were constructed in the 1950s. The tours were led by architects from ThenDesign Architecture and Project Management Consultants. Both firms have been commissioned by the Board of Education to develop a master plan with community input to address the challenge of aging elementary facilities.
Several options for renovating and replacing the facilities at Bryden, Hilltop and Fairmount will be presented to the public on Thursday, October 20. Residents will have opportunities to ask questions and share input on the best path forward. The result of the community feedback will be a master plan presented to the Board of Education on Thursday, November 17. Scroll down to read more.
During the tours, teachers and administrators familiar with the facilities shared the challenges of delivering a 21st century education in 65-year-old buildings. These challenges include a lack of space for increasing elementary enrollment and programming needs, accessibility issues, and HVAC and electrical systems that have exceeded their useful life.
“We’re bursting at the seams,” said first-grade teacher Ann Bracale, who has taught in the District for 33 years. “Every space is used for children.”
Hilltop science teacher Jason Hill showed residents his cramped classroom. He envisioned the possibilities for more hands-on science and collaborative work that a larger classroom could provide.
“Imagine if we had a space that was larger,” he said. “We make do, but we could do better.”
Residents said they appreciated the opportunity to see for themselves the current needs of the facilities and grounds.
“It’s nice to see it as I walk through the building,” said Epa Bizimana, the parent of three children in the district. “Once they start explaining, I get it. ”
“It is clear something needs to be done,” said Vallerie Propper, the parent of an incoming kindergartener. “I’m not sure what.”
“I’m anxious for a plan,” said Laurel Hoffman, parent of a third and second-grader. “I want a building that matches the quality of education.”
Missed the tours? Virtual tours of Bryden and Hilltop will be available in October.